when running in circles is a good thing

as i tied up my running shoes today, mentally prepping myself for the cold and forcing myself out the door, i thought ‘bring it on ukrainian winter!!’. well yea, THAT WAS DUMB. immediately i retracted my sentiments apologizing to the forces of nature in ukraine, grappling ‘i didn’t really mean it! you’ll always win!’. but i’m pretty sure the damage was done and ukrainian winter is in fact going to bring it.

i’ve felt pretty lucky so far with the weather we’ve had. it is only recently that the temperatures have dropped and the wind has really increased. not sure if you know, or really care, but i’m currently training for a marathon in april (you can read about my progress here). yes, this might be really foolish and sure i very well may be overreaching, seeing as the longest runs are during the coldest months. but honestly if i didn’t have that goal, i probably wouldn’t continue running in the winter.

so here i am at the brink of a ukrainian winter, almost reduced to tears from the last run realizing — it’s only just begun. last year in ukraine i was able to run through january and most of february (until the major freeze hit) so i know it’s possible. i know i can do it. but…but…i just wish i had an indoor track sometimes. like today.

the temperature wasn’t even that bad today when i set off for my ‘long’ (i’m still in the single digets) run for the weekend.  maybe it was around 26F. i overdressed and shed some layers as i warmed up.  i warmed up quickly, then was too warm, and then sweat — which is not a good thing when running in cold weather. the wind picked up, seeking revenge for my cockiness, and before long i could tell my body temp was dropping and it felt like i was running around the freezer ailes in wet towel. it was not. pleasant. (though probably less embarrassing then that grocery store horror)

while i planned for a half-mile cool down i was to my dismay still far from home. all i wanted to do was be warm. and take a REAL HOT SHOWER. none of this bucket bath business. the wind pushed me around, painfully blew through my long sleeve tech shirt like it was nobody’s business and sent me into fits of shouting obscenities as if the wind could hear me. as if it would do anything. and as if the people in my village don’t already think i’m a weirdo.

all i could do was keep running to stay warm. and eventually i made it. i made it home, devoured four slices of pizza (that’s a good post-run food, right?), and vowed to never go outside again…well, at least for today. really, i’m probably just being dramatic. it’s my own damn fault that i wasn’t prepared and ukraine got the best of me. on the good side i did reach my goal for the day, even over my goal. 6.6 miles — a number i haven’t seen on my pedometer for a while. AND i think i finally found the answer to all my running route anxiety — my school’s ‘track’. it’s a little over a mile away but it’s safer than the solo way-out-into-no-man’s-land runs i’ve been doing.

it’s not easy to find places to run here. either you’re dealing with dog attacks, rocky barely there road shoulders, not to mention all the factors of running alone. or as a woman. or trying to find the little bit of daylight left. running here isn’t easy. but i think going to my school to run will make it easier (not sure why i didn’t think of it before). it’s just a dirt path, one that’s not always clearly visible. but i can drop off extra clothes and a water bottle while i run. not to mention there’s the school outhouses and a bus stop near by. of course it’s still not ideal, 4 laps is just under a mile, so i’ll be doing lots of running in circles. lots. might as well call me ‘loopy’! — ‘best in show’, anyone? — loopy or not that’s okay, at least i can zone out and not worry about the million other things that come with running here. maybe even get some of my kids to run a few laps with me…i guess then i’d have to stop swearing at the cold air.

thanks to foolishly egging-on ukraine, maybe it is going to show me what it’s got this winter, i’ll still try to prove myself a fit competitor (get it? get it?) and be a little better prepared next time.


the lone red roof — on the way to school


vanishing point — a fallen water tower in my village.


i think he’s winking at me. a typical (though not the winking part) saturday bazaar in ukraine.


a graffiti tag in the city for my village’s nickname ‘handa’ (no one knows why). represent!


the school ‘track’

2 thoughts on “when running in circles is a good thing

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